Skip to main content

Full text of "WOOD BLOCK PRINTING IN COLOR"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



14 



BULLETIN OF THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS 



WHISTLER'S PORTRAIT OF ROBERT BARR 



The Witenagemote Club has pur- 
chased and presented a portrait 
sketch of Robert Barr by Whistler. 
While being somewhat fragmentary 
as a work of the artist, its local 
significance makes it of much inter- 
est to Detroiters. The Witenage- 
mote Club could scarcely have 
chosen a better memorial of their 
former member and associate. Such 
a portrait sketch implies an intimacy 
between the sitter and the artist, 
and it is not unlikely that Robert 
Barr as co-editor with Jerome K. 
Jerome of The Idler, and as a writer 
of note in London, enjoyed the 
friendship of the author of "The 
Gentle Art of Making Enemies." 
Whistler also painted a portrait of 
Robert Barr's daughter. 

Robert Barr joined the editorial 



staff of the Detroit Free Press in 
1876, coming here from Canada. He 
was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and 
had received his education at 
Toronto. In 1881 he went to 
London and there established the 
weekly edition of the Free Press. 
The magazine, The Idler, in which 
he was associated with Jerome, was 
founded in 1892. He is the author 
of "In a Steamer Chair," "From 
Whose Bourne," "In the Midst of 
Alarms," "The Face and the Mask," 
"The Countess Teckla," "The 
Strong Arm," "The Unchanging 
East," "Over the Border," "The 
Woman Wins," "A Chicago Prin- 
cess," "Speculations of John Steele," 
"The Triumph of Eugene Valmont," 
"A Rock on the Baltic," "Cadillac" 
and "The Swordmaker." C. II. B. 



WOOD BLOCK PRINTING IN COLOR 



A group of wood block prints in 
color by contemporary artists has 
been acquired and installed in the 
Print Department. There are three 
prints, "Spring Blossoms," "Prov- 
incetown" and "Spring Freshet," by 
Gustave Baumann; two by Bror 
J. O. Nordfelt, "The Clam Diggers" 
and "At the Piano"; "Garden 
Flowers" by Edna Boies Hopkins; 
"Little Jo" by Juliette T. Nichols; 
"Flowers" by Elizabeth Shuff Tay- 
lor; "The Violet Jug" by Blanche 
Lazzell; "The Blue Chair" by Flora 
Schoenfeld; "Landing Boats" by 



Maude Squire; and "Thirsty Little 
Brother" by Eliza D. Gardiner. A 
series of six wood blocks by Gustave 
Baumann and successive prints 
from them have also been acquired 
to illustrate the method of making 
a wood block print in color. 

Wood block prints in color are 
made, with some variations, after 
the following manner : 

The artist first makes a sketch, or 
design, which is cut in its entirety on 
what is known as a key block. 
Cherry or basswood is most gener- 
ally used, although some of our most 



BULLETIN OF THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS 



15 




GUSTAVE BAUMANN. SPRING FRESHET. 
WOOD BLOCK PRINT IN COLOR. 



successful artists have used other 
varieties of wood, and linoleum is 
found to be a splendid substitute. 
The engraving is not made on the 
cross sections of the block, but upon 
a longitudinal section. Prints of the 
key block are then pasted upon the 
other blocks in order to assure 
accurate registering, and the areas 
of these blocks, intended for a cer- 
tain color, are left and the rest cut 
out with knives, gouges or chisels. 
Water color or ink is then freely 
applied to the portion which remains 
and the paper is laid upon the suc- 



cessive blocks and printed with a 
press or rubbed with a circular pad, 
the registry being accomplished by 
marks at the corner and side of the 
block. The prints of Gustave 
Baumann exemplify this method. 

A simpler method is the wood 
block printing from a single color 
block in which the artist manipu- 
lates his color variations all on one 
block. This is exemplified in the 
prints of Edna Boies Hopkins, 
Elizabeth Snuff Taylor, Blanche 
Lazzell, Maude Squire, Juliette T. 
Nichols, Eliza D. Gardiner, and 



16 



(BULLETIN OF THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS 



Bror J. O. Nordfelt. The difference 
in the two methods may be dis- 
cerned by a careful study of their 
prints. 

Wood block printing in color, by 
its resources and its limitations, is a 
beautiful medium to which the true 
artist responds with the best that is 
in him. The peculiar pleasure of 
seeing the same design take on a 
different character with each print- 
ing must ever be a source of fascina- 
tion to the artist. No two prints 
need ever be exactly alike. The 
variation of color arrangement is 
inexhaustible. 

But the limitations of wood block 
printing are no less fascinating. The 
composition must of necessity be 
simple. There must be a good deal 
of elimination in drawing. A few 
tones must be suggestive of all the 
artist wishes to convey in the way 
of gradation of color and values. 
It is as important for him to know 
what to leave out as what to put in. 
It develops in him a rare facility of 
design. By his own manual 
dexterity in cutting the blocks the 
artist must learn to adapt his sketch 
to the possibilities of the block. He 
is both artist and craftsman and 
every print taken from his blocks is 
entirely a product of his own 
creation. 

From the series of wood blocks by 



Gustave Baumann, together with 
the proofs taken from the same, one 
may discern the "will-to-do" of the 
artist, from the making of the sketch 
to the final beautiful outcome. One 
may see the mastery of design, the 
infinite patience and manual skill 
in cutting the respective blocks, and 
the mathematical exactness in regis- 
tering the print on the various 
blocks, with a sympathetic under- 
standing of the artist's joy in his 
work. 

Wood block printing in color is 
becoming an ever increasing medium 
of artistic expression with American 
artists, and happily so. Prints cf 
this character fill a long felt need of 
a very large number of people of 
discernment and taste who desire to 
possess the work of artists, but 
whose material means do not admit 
of large expenditures. The painter- 
graver is making an important con- 
tribution in making art democratic, 
so that it may be shared by a larger 
number of people. Prints of this 
character bring one much nearer the 
creative artist, and they cost 
scarcely more than the photo 
mechanical prints of works of art, 
which have heretofore satisfied the 
average man's aspiration to possess 
pictures for his home. 

The prints were selected from an 
exhibition organized last year with 
the desire of giving a clearer under- 



PUBLISHED MONTHLY, OCTOBER TO MAY, INCLUSIVE, AT THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF 
ARTS OF THE CITY OF DETROIT. ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MATTER AT THE POST 
OFFICE AT DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNDER THE ACT OF OCTOBER 3, 1917. 



BULLETIN OF THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS 



17 




BROR J. NORDFELDT. CLAM DIGGERS. 
WOOD BLOCK PRINT IN COLOR. 



standing of a method of artistic 
expression having its origin in the 
deservedly popular Japanese print, 
which is continually growing in 
public esteem in the hands of Ameri- 
can artists. This exhibition after 
its initial display in Detroit was 
shown at the Ann Arbor Art Asso- 
ciation, the Toledo Museum of Art, 



the Cleveland Museum of Art, the 
John Herron Art Institute of Indian- 
apolis, and the Hackley Gallery of 
Fine Arts at Muskegon. Other 
Museums desired it during the cur- 
rent year, but it had to be disbanded 
owing to the number of sales and 
withdrawals by the artists. 

C. H. B.